Emma Moffat is a writer-director particularly interested in action and unusual stories from the past. Having studied History at Cambridge she has a keen interest in warfare, secret intelligence and women’s history.
Strand caught up with Emma at the 2019 Lift-Off London Film Festival to chat about her latest short film, A Battle in Waterloo, which follows a soldier's wife as she searches for her missing husband in the nearby forest and must resort to extraordinary measures to survive.
What was the inspiration behind A Battle In Waterloo?
I originally wrote the piece as an imaginary fictional story of women fighting in Waterloo, and then doing more research, I found that it’s a real phenomena that women did actually go and fight in wars before the 20th century, which is the first time that people are aware of, generally speaking. So, I wrote it as a longer piece and then I made it into a short.
Do you have any films from the war/action genre that acted as inspirations?
Yeah, definitely! One of my favourite films is Full Metal Jacket by Stanley Kubrick, I love that film. Generally the films I like to watch are war films, or action films and I would like to work in that genre going forward. I loved Dunkirk recently and the play on time. I haven’t really seen many films that are set during war where women are set at the centre, and actually fighting as opposed to someones sidekick or love interest; that’s really somewhere I would like to take the focus and put it into the protagonist.
What was the toughest part of making the film?
It was made a lot easier by the Bumble female film force fund, I tried to make Waterloo for a long time and it kind of wasn’t the right story for anyone, and then the fund came up and they were looking for female led stories. So I submitted it to Bumble and they picked it, and they were really supportive of us having an almost entirely female crew, as well as, a story that focussed on a female. I think they also really pushed the other 4 films to be female led and by female creatives, so each film had to have a female director, writer and producer, so yeah it kind of really came to life through that scheme along with WDW Entertainment who were the production company. It was also nice to be supported by them, not just be funded, but actually to have help with the film.
What was the vibe on set like?
We had a largely female crew, we also had some notable, amazing men on the team too. But it was quite interesting turning up on set and just seeing so many women there. I’m use to being on sets on my day job, where I’ve been working in film for nearly 10 years, but I’ve never worked with a female director and I’ve never worked on a majority female crew, ever. So it was kind of an adjustment for the first few days, just thinking, how are we doing this? It was quite a nice, it was a very calm atmosphere and if anything I think it proves that there are women out there doing roles that people just don’t think women do. For instance we had a female armourer, the only female armourer in the UK to supervise the shooting of the musket. We had a female boom op, female production designer, director, cinematographer, and more. It was really nice for that female atmosphere to sort of come to life.
What are you looking forward to next?
So I’ve got two more shorts that I’d like to make in 2020, again both are historical and action based. I’ve also got a historical comedy in development with a production company called Shiny Button Productions, and I’m writing a longer form version of Waterloo, which is what I had initially started with, and then some other ideas running around too.
Have you got any advice for budding filmmakers?
Just to never give up, it is really really hard and you’re going to have to work harder than your friends are working at a day job but it is worth it. I think definitely it took me a really really long time to find the confidence to write and direct, but also to figure out that my love of history is something that is valuable in my work and something that I wanted to purse within this sphere and just kind of finding what my voice was. I think it can take a long time to find what you want to say.
You can find out more about Emma and her work here!